Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year and this year it will fall on Monday, 8 February and 2016 is the year of the monkey. Here is everything you need to know, as well as a few things we as westerners can learn from the Chinese traditions.
Chinese New Year marks the first day of the New Year on the Chinese calendar. It’s the most important holiday in China and dates back as far as the 14th century. As Chinese people migrated abroad, their favorite holiday did the same, and today the thriving Chinese communities found in the United States all partake in the celebrations. The biggest celebrations outside of China take place in the United States.
Yet celebrating Chinese New Year definitely isn’t reserved for Chinese people alone. Communities around the country celebrate the joyous occasion. There are many things westerners can learn and enjoy about the Chinese New Year.
The celebrations can last for days and although there are 12 zodiac sign for the different animals associated with each year, the dragon and the rabbit are particularly prominent during the celebrations. Parades in the major American cities feature colorful costumes, floats, firecrackers, dances and street fairs. Large Chinatowns are also likely to host a fun run that anyone can partake in.
Before Chinese New Year, many people clean out there houses to rid it of bad luck and ghosts. Even those who don’t follow the Chinese calendar or share their beliefs might benefit from a good annual clean up of unwanted items and dust that has accumulated in difficult to reach places.
Another great habit of Chinese people around the time of New Year is to get a new haircut or update their wardrobe for the New Year. Perhaps your clothes are worn out and you haven’t had a proper haircut in years. It could be a great opportunity to follow the example of the Chinese.
Paying off debt is yet another excellent tradition that tends to go hand in hand with Chinese New Year. Have a look at our article about leading a debt-free life in 2016 for some tips on how you can also pay off your debt during the year of the monkey this year. It will take a significant load off your shoulders!
Other interesting traditions often observed on the evening of Chinese New Year are as follows:
- Families make dumplings together to ensure good for the year ahead
- Long noodles are eaten, and in order to live a long life, you should never break the noodles while eating
- Families and friends wear red for good luck and avoid wearing black at all cost.
Many awards regarding Chinese culture in America may be handed out on Chinese New Year as a means to celebrate. Look out for new lists of the top Chinese restaurants in your city during this time. Perhaps you’ll discover a new favorite for 2016.
Although Chinese New Year isn’t a federal holiday in the United States, some Chinese shops and businesses may close on the day, so if you were planning on stocking your cupboard with noodles and soya sauce from your local Chinese grocer, you may have to wait a day or two.
Whether you believe like the Chinese do and you plan to celebrated Chinese New Year, there is a lot of value hidden in the customs surrounding this momentous occasion!